Pressure on Christian converts in Bangladesh is increasing, with hate-posts being spread on social media and children as young as four being impacted by anti-Christian rhetoric. Please pray for our church family there to be strengthened. Please note: all names in this article have been changed for security reasons.
Jahangir, 4, holds up his Bible - his teacher told his parents he was sent home because he comes from a Christian family
Four-year-old Jahangir’s parents were shocked when their son returned home from school far too early. When they asked him why, Jahangir said his teacher had told him there was no space for him on the class bench.
He was too young to understand what had happened – in fact, he was overjoyed that he’d been given an unexpected day off – but Jahangir’s parents knew exactly why he’d been sent home. The next day, when they confronted his teacher, she said bluntly: “If the boy comes to the school and sits with other Muslim boys, then the Muslim boys might leave the school. They will not want to sit on the same bench with a Christian boy during classes.” She’d asked Jahangir to go home because she knew his parents had converted to Christianity.
Sadly, this is becoming a more common reality for many young Christians in Bangladesh – especially children in converted families. And it’s taking a toll on their physical and emotional health. The mistreatment and bullying they experience from their teachers and peers mean that many of them hide their faith and have trouble mingling with other children. They also lose interest in their studies and become withdrawn.
Parents struggle to know what to do without much support or awareness on how to deal with the problem. The advice they receive is often unhelpful; comments such as “Don’t think about it” or “You should endure it because you’re Christians, and persecution is a reality” add to the struggle. Many children are not able to fully embrace their Christian faith.
Thanks to your prayers and support, local Open Doors partners have been encouraging and praying for Jahangir and his family. Please pray for more opportunities to support families in similar situations who are struggling.
In October, a religious fundamentalist posted the personal information of 24 Christians on Facebook with provocative comments to protest their conversions. The post included believers’ names, family information, contact numbers, and baptism dates.
The social media post read: “I am fortunate to be born in a Muslim family, I am proud to be the follower of the world leader Rasul Kareem, the Holy Quran is my education and knowledge, which is my pride. I will fight if necessary to protect the religion of peace, Islam. But I will not allow […] religious conversion… I demand these Christians’ exemplary punishment. I expect strong protest from every Muslim.”
Immediately, the post went viral and stirred up anger in local non-Christians; Christians have been in a state of panic since the incident. They fear more persecution and attacks, especially when they go out as part of their daily routine.
“The news spread very quickly, and since this incident, I am afraid to go out freely,” says Pastor Parvin, a Christian convert. “The other believers have limited their movements outside. Some of the believers have been stopped from going out of their homes by their non-believing family members.”
Of the 24 affected people, 18 are members of Pastor Parvin’s church. He took this matter to the local police and, thankfully, was able to have the post taken down from Facebook.
But the anger of non-Christians, as well as the fear of Christians, has yet to die down; there is still palpable tension between both parties. Open Doors local partners are praying for this situation and looking into the needs of affected believers to find ways to best support them.
Herod's Secret Policeman is a new resource from Open Doors for children and families. It tells the story of Secret Policeman Number 3 - a spy sent by Herod to follow the magi - and comes as a storybook with a video version, great for Advent or Christmas services!
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